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Interstate 8 Westbound - Maricopa County

The control city for Interstate 8 west is San Diego from its inception in Casa Grande all the way to the coast. This sign is posted on northbound Vekol Road in rural Maricopa County in the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Photo taken 01/17/05.

Interstate 8 west
Interstate 8 leaves Pinal County and enters Maricopa County. Maricopa County is the most populous county in Arizona, as it contains Phoenix and its suburbs as well as Gila Bend. Photo taken 01/17/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 144, Vekol Road. This local road travels north and south from the freeway, but it does not connect to anything. Photo taken 01/17/05.
Westbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 144, Vekol Road. A short bridge carries the freeway over the Vekol Wash. Photo taken 01/17/05.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Gila Bend (29 miles), Yuma (143 miles), and San Diego (320 miles). The freeway reenters the Sonoran Desert National Monument and will not depart the monument until near Gila Bend. Photo taken 01/17/05.
The next exit on westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 140, Freeman Road (one mile). Photo taken 01/17/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 140, Freeman Road. This interchange provides local ranch access. Photo taken 01/17/05.
After the Freeman Road interchange, there are no more exits until Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8 west to Arizona 85 north to Interstate 10 in Gila Bend. This makes this 21-mile stretch the longest on Interstate 8 without interchanges or exits. Photo taken 01/17/05.

This suite of photos shows westbound Interstate 8 as it passes through the Sonoran Desert National Monument between the Freeman Road interchange and the outskirts of Gila Bend. A mileage sign and reassurance marker can be found about midway through this long exitless stretch of Interstate 8. Photos taken 01/17/05.
Prior to entering Gila Bend, westbound Interstate 8 squeezes between the Sand Tank Mountains to the south and Maricopa Mountains to the north. Photo taken 01/17/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail west to Gila Bend and Junction Arizona 85 north to Interstate 10 and south to Ajo. This is a new sign and is unusual since it marks the interchange that is still six miles west of here. Photos taken 01/17/05.
Closing on in Gila Bend, this mileage sign advises of the two exits to Gila Bend: Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8 west to Gila Bend and Exit 115, Junction Arizona 85 south to Ajo and north to Gila Bend. Most of the motorist services are at the second interchange. Photo taken 01/17/05.
The Gila Bend business route provides connections to all services, including gas, food, lodging, camping, and tourist information. Photo taken 01/17/05.
A variable message sign is posted prior to Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail. Photo taken 01/17/05.
Westbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail west to Gila Bend. Use this exit to Arizona 85 north to Interstate 10 for all traffic who used Interstate 8 to bypass metropolitan Phoenix. It is not clear why the Business Loop I-8 shield is omitted from this sign. Photo taken 01/17/05.
The town of Gila Bend is known as the Crossroads of the Southwest. Home to 1,980 people as of the 2000 Census, Gila Bend is named for the nearly 90-degree bend in the Gila River that causes the river to change direction from southbound to westbound en route to the Colorado River. A welcome sign on the business route greets visitors: "Gila Bend Welcomes You - Home of 1700 Friendly People and 5 Old Crabs - Elevation 737 Feet. Photo taken 01/17/05.
Westbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 119, Junction Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail west to Gila Bend. Again, the Business Loop I-8 shield is omitted. Photo taken 01/17/05.
This reassurance shield is posted on westbound Interstate 8 after the Business Loop I-8/Butterfield Trail interchange. Photo taken 01/17/05.
The next exit on westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 115, Junction Business Loop I-8 east and Arizona 85 south to Ajo. Photo taken 01/17/05.
Use Arizona 85 south to Ajo, Why, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and Lukeville. At Lukeville, Arizona 85 crosses the border and becomes Mexico Federal Route 8, which connects to Mexico Federal 2 at Sonoyta. To the north, Arizona 85 and Business Loop I-8 lead into Gila Bend. Photo taken 01/17/05.
For travelers reconnecting to Interstate 10 west to Los Angeles, follow Arizona 85 north. Photo taken 01/17/05.
Westbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 115, Junction Business Loop I-8 east and Arizona 85 south to Ajo. No services are available on Interstate 8 west for another 28 miles. Photo taken 01/17/05.
At the base of the ramp for Exit 115 is this sign assembly for Arizona 85 and the control cities of Mexico (south) and Gila Bend (north). Turn north to all motorist services. Photo taken 01/17/05.
This reassurance shield for Interstate 8 west is posted after the west Gila Bend interchange (Exit 115). Old U.S. 80 parallels Interstate 8 from here west to San Diego, and old alignments of U.S. 80 can still be traversed from Exit 54 west to Yuma. The Gila River follows Interstate 8 between Gila Bend and Yuma, but Interstate 8 never crosses the Yuma River. Photo taken 03/19/07.
The speed limit along Interstate 8 between Gila Bend and Dome Valley (just east of Yuma) is 75 miles per hour. Photo taken 03/19/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Sentinel (27 miles), Yuma (113 miles), and San Diego (290 miles). San Diego remains the control city for the entire length of Interstate 8 west in Arizona. Photo taken 03/19/07.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 111, Citrus Valley Road (one mile). Photo taken 03/19/07.
Citrus Valley Road provides local access and connects to the Gila Bend Indian Reservation and Gila River to the north of the freeway. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Westbound Interstate 8 meets Citrus Valley Road at Exit 111. Photo taken 03/19/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Paloma (5 miles), Rest Area (26 miles), and San Diego (286 miles). Omitted on this mileage sign are Sentinel (next motorist services) and Yuma. Photo taken 03/19/07.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 106, Paloma Road. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Paloma Road also provides local access to ranches and desert areas, including Theba, which is just south of the freeway. Much of the area to the south of Interstate 8 is inaccessible as it is part of the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range. Access to this vast land is restricted to military purposes and is dangerous due to the presence of ordnance. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Westbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 106, Paloma Road to Paloma and Theba. Interstate 8 continues west through the Sonora Desert and Gila River valley toward Yuma. Photo taken 03/19/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Sentinel (19 miles), Dateland (38 miles), and San Diego (282 miles). Photo taken 03/19/07.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 102, Painted Rock Road. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Painted Rock Road travels north to the Painted Rock Dam on the Gila River and the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, which offers camping, hiking, and picnicking. The Painted Rock Mountains can be seen to the northwest; they line the Gila River as it wends its way west toward the Colorado River. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Continuing west, Interstate 8 approaches Exit 102, Painted Rock Road, one-half mile. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Westbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 102, Painted Rock Road. This is the last exit for 14 miles. Photo taken 03/19/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Sentinel (14 miles), Rest Area (16 miles), and San Diego (277 miles). Photo taken 03/19/07.
This suite of photos shows the boundless desert in all its beauty between Exit 103 (Painted Rock Road) and Exit 87 (Sentinel/Hyder). The morning sun came out in all its glory, bringing the vivid colors of the desert to life! Photos taken 03/19/07.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 8 is Exit 87, Agua Caliente Road north to Sentinel and Hyder (one mile). Sentinel is the small roadside town alongside Interstate 8 and old U.S. 80. The frontage road through Sentinel is the old alignment of U.S. 80. However, a road leads north from Sentinel to Agua Caliente and Hyder. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Use Exit 87 to Agua Caliente (12 miles north of Interstate 8 via Agua Caliente Road). Agua Caliente is one of two ghost towns north of Sentinel; the other is Hyder. Known as a resort area for its hot springs, the remains of the resort and community are all that's left of Agua Caliente. The springs dried up as neighboring areas used more groundwater for agricultural irrigation. Several structures, which date from the late 1800s and early 1900s, are still in place today. Photo taken 03/19/07.
The ghost town of Hyder is some 20 miles north of Interstate 8 via Agua Caliente Road north and Hyder Road west. Both roads are paved. Hyder was where George S. Patton trained some of his troops during World War II. Hyder is also the site of an Amtrak train derailment that was caused by terrorism on October 9, 1995, resulting in one death and 78 injuries.1 Photo taken 03/19/07.
Westbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 87, Agua Caliente Road north to Sentinel, Agua Caliente, and Hyder. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Sentinel is a fairly small town on the north side of Interstate 8; the town lines the freeway along the small extant section of Old U.S. 80 that still remains. A gas station, small elementary school, and houses can be seen from the freeway; the railroad sits on the south side of the freeway. Photo taken 03/19/07.
There is a neat old gas station located at this exit along what used to be old U.S. 80 but is now a short frontage road. Gas, food, beverages, and souvenirs can still be bought at this old station. The next services to be found are not for another 20 miles. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Continuing west, the next exit is the Sentinel Rest Area (Milepost 85). Toilets, water, and related facilities are available at this exit. Photo taken 03/19/07.
The Sentinel Rest Area exit is at Milepost 85. The next rest area is 29 miles ahead. Photo taken 03/19/07.
Westbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 85, Sentinel Rest Area. Photo taken 03/19/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Dateland (16 miles), Yuma (82 miles), and San Diego (260 miles) after traffic merges back onto Interstate 8 west from the rest area. The rest area is the last exit before Interstate 8 leaves Maricopa County and enters Yuma County (the county line is not photographed). Photo taken 03/19/07.



Sources:

  1. Domestic Terrorism Strikes AMTRAK by Paul Anderson, EmergencyNet NEWS Service, Emergency Response & Research Institute, October 9, 1995
Photo Credits:
2005-01-17, 2007-03-19 by AARoads

Connect with:
Business Loop I-8
Arizona 85

Page Updated 03-23-2007.

 
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